January 3, 2014 by Chris French
Jesus condemns the people who pray “to be seen of men”. They want people to think they’re spiritual. Jesus says they’ve gotten their reward (Matt. 6.5). Jesus tells His disciples to ward of pride by being alone when they do these spiritual things (giving, praying and fasting) so they can get the reward that their Father gives instead of settling for the accolades and positive opinions of the people around them. The question is, “What is the reward He’s talking about?”
Is the reward God answering your prayers? It seems pretty easy to answer that question. Has God given you everything you asked for? Of course not! Sometimes you were asking wrong (see Monday’s post for more on this idea.) Sometimes what you were asking for was not in your best interest. There have been things I’ve asked for that would have hurt me had He given them to me. James tells us that God is in the business of giving only good gifts (James 1.17). So what is the reward Jesus refers to in Matthew 6 if it’s not that I get what I want? Something even better…
When we pray to get on the same page as God we get our reward: intimacy with the Father. Jesus tells us about a group of people who pray because they want everyone around them to think they’re spiritual. They got their reward. We pray to build a relationship with God. We get our reward. If you’re trying to start an intimate relationship with God start with prayer. Be transparent. Lay your heart open to God. He already knows how you feel anyhow so when you don’t vocalize those thoughts/feelings you’re only hiding them from yourself.
Are there things that you do only because other people’s opinion of your spirituality are effected?
Feeling a little timid voicing your feelings and struggles? Write them down and then say them. Don’t overestimate the power of articulating your struggles.